Presentation Format Can Make or Break a Market Research Report
by Mike Poirier
I’ve written before about the importance of catering your market research reports to your audience.
This post is a continuation of that, with attention given to presentation formatting.
One of my biggest challenges as a market research manager is how to communicate quantitative data in a way that the reader leaves each slide understanding the main idea. I’d like to share what I’ve learned about effective presentation format from my recent experiences.
Most market research reports are drafted in PowerPoint. It’s the easiest tool to present data in a visually appealing way, with supporting copy to explain the findings. And the copy is where I want to start.
There’s a ton of data. How do I narrow it down?
It’s easy to get caught up in explaining every little piece of information the data is showing, but the slide is quickly going to get bogged down with excessive text. You don’t want the reader to be juggling two or three takeaways from a single slide, when they should really have just one.
(The conventional wisdom in slide show presentation formatting is that a reader will only take away a single piece of information from each slide. Anything more than that, and they will either get confused, or only absorb parts of what you’re sharing. Either way, your hard work will not produce the results you desire.)
One solution is to think of each slide in a research report having three components:
- A main idea
- Evidence to support the main idea
- Implications of the main idea
Getting your main idea across
The main idea is the key takeaway. What do you want the reader to understand from the information on the slide? Your main idea should only be a sentence or two. Ideally, it should be placed in the title of the slide.
According to the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations, you should be able to copy all of your slide titles into a single document that summarizes the whole story of the presentation using just those ideas.
Supporting your main idea with evidence
The evidence to support the main idea comes from the visual presentation of the data, along with any text explaining what the data shows. Again, this should be limited to a couple sentences, so that the reader does not get lost in the copy.
Why do you think Twitter is so popular?
What are the implications?
The implications of the main idea are less structured than the first two. Ultimately, your main idea and evidence are part of the report for a single reason: to tell the story.
There has to be an implication that is relevant to the research. Otherwise, you’re presenting data for no reason other than the fact that it exists.
Presenting the implications might be just another bullet point, if you can cut it down to a sentence or two. If not, place the implications in the notes section and make them a talking point when you present. Doing so generates discussion and shows you did your homework with the research.
Now tell me, did I follow the same format on this blog post?
Photo Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/imaginecup/